NEIGHBORS : A Pilgrimage to Texas in Search of a Sports Legend : An Oxnard man caps 20 years of following Nolan Ryan with a trip to see the baseball great close his career.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Romeo Solis was packed for the pilgrimage of his life.

The Oxnard man, a reverent fan of pitcher Nolan Ryan, planned to go to Texas and watch the future Hall of Famer end his 27-year baseball career and maybe, just maybe, meet the man Solis has venerated since he was 13.

Ever since 1973, when Solis celebrated his 13th birthday by watching Ryan pitch a no-hitter, he has known who his hero is.

"During the eight years that he pitched for the California Angels, I scored every one of his games from the radio," he said.

So deep was his devotion that when Ryan moved to his current team, the Texas Rangers, Solis took out a subscription to the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Ryan's hometown newspaper. Thirty copies of the paper are delivered en masse to Solis' home once a month.

This month's delivery will include 10 extra copies of the Sept. 23rd edition, the one detailing the pitching injury that has ended Ryan's career--and Solis' hope of seeing his idol pitch his last game.

Despite Ryan's absence, Solis, his wife and 11-year-old son (also a Ryan fan) went to Texas to watch the Rangers end the season.

"His last two starts were scheduled for the day we arrived and the day we left," Solis said.

"It took a lot of time, money and planning to put the trip together, but I feel worse for him than I do for myself," he said.

Solis still hopes he can meet Ryan.

"If I could pick any person for me or my son to emulate, it would be him," Solis said. "He is like a best friend I never met."

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The full moon shone on the pumpkins at the Faulkner Farm in Santa Paula as book boosters got together for the second annual Blanchard Community Library fund-raiser.

The library depends on fund-raisers for 8% of its $220,000 annual budget, Librarian Dan Robles said.

The rest comes from property taxes--and therein lies the shortfall. Although Blanchard has avoided the much-publicized county library cuts, Robles said his budget has declined 79% over the past 15 years.

The money from the fund-raiser will be used to buy advertising for the Nov. 2 elections. The library district will ask voters to support a Nov. 2 measure that would fund the Blanchard Library by charging each property owner $15 a year for 10 years. This will be the third time that the library district has gone to the voters for more money.

Robles said that if voters reject the proposal this time, the library would just have to live with it.

Celestial events, however, may be in the library's favor. The moon's also going to be big and round on Election Day.

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Ojai resident Geoff Foley's career has gone from stuntman to director of the Ojai Shakespeare Festival. He was named to the position last month.

In the '70s and '80s, Foley performed stunts in several action adventure films, including "The Stunt Man" and Chuck Norris' "A Force of One." Before that, he was The Guy in White at Knott's Berry Farm's Wild West Show.

"It was a great job for an 18-year-old," he said.

But now, at the advanced age of 37, he's gone from being The Guy in White to a guy in tights. In this summer's production of "The Taming of the Shrew," Foley took it on the chin as Petruchio.

"In the wooing scene with Kate, Petruchio has to prove Kate could beat on him like a drum and all she was going to do was get tired," Foley said.

But Jaye Hersh, who played Kate, turned out to be very athletic.

"She blacked my eye good during one rehearsal," Foley said. "We took that part out of the play."

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